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This past spring, just before a National Association for Law Placement conference in Boston, the local associate grapevine started buzzing with news of a pay hike at several law firms with a large Boston presence. For the first time in a number of years, Ropes & Gray; Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr; Dechert; Goodwin Procter; and McDermott Will & Emery raised Boston associate pay by $5,000 and more.

The raises, however, excluded first-year associates. Some attendees at the NALP conference found that strange. “People were thinking, ‘Hmm, the economy is picking up a little bit,’” said Jill McDonald, director of attorney hiring at the intellectual property firm Fish & Richardson. “‘So who’s going to be the first to raise their first-year associates’ salaries?’”

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